Electrochemiluminescence (ECL) is a powerful transduction technique where light emission from a molecular species is triggered by an electrochemical reaction. Application to biosensors has led to a wide range of electroanalytical methods with particular impact on clinical analysis for diagnostic and therapeutic monitoring. Therefore, the quest for increasing the sensitivity while maintaining reproducible and easy procedures has brought investigations and innovations in (i) electrode materials, (ii) luminophores, and (iii) reagents. Particularly, the ECL signal is strongly affected by the electrode material and its surface modification during the ECL experiments. Here, we exploit boron-doped diamond (BDD) as an electrode material in microbead-based ECL immunoassay to be compared with the approach used in commercial instrumentation. We conducted a careful characterization of ECL signals from a tris(2,2′-bipyridine)ruthenium(II) (Ru(bpy)32+)/tri-n-propylamine (TPrA) system, both homogeneous (i.e., free diffusing Ru(bpy)32+) and heterogeneous (i.e., Ru(bpy)32+bound on microbeads). We investigated the methods to promote TPrA oxidation, which led to the enhancement of ECL intensity, and the results revealed that the BDD surface properties greatly affect the ECL emission, so it does the addition of neutral, cationic, or anionic surfactants. Our results from homogeneous and heterogeneous microbead-based ECL show opposite outcomes, which have practical consequences in ECL optimization. In conclusion, by using Ru(bpy)32+-labeled immunoglobulins bound on microbeads, the ECL resulted in an increase of 70% and a double signal-to-noise ratio compared to platinum electrodes, which are actually used in commercial instrumentation for clinical analysis. This research infers that microbead-based ECL immunoassays with a higher sensitivity can be realized by BDD.
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